As teachers, we all look back at some of our previous methods of teaching and realize how far we have come. I am going into my 14th year in the classroom and have often thought what a disservice I did to my early classes. I was trying new methods and also trying to survive those first few years of teaching. One aspect of teaching that was completely missing in my early days was formative assessment. And if I did include it in a class it consisted of me asking for a show of hands of who felt comfortable with the previous day’s discussion or topic. It didn’t take students long to realize that if they raised their hand they didn’t have to endure another magical tour through the structure of the atom PowerPoint.
Today, we have much better methods of formatively assessing our students’ knowledge. As teachers, we are no longer able to say we know exactly what is going to be in our lesson for the day. We must be flexible enough in our plan to incorporate the results of the formative assessment. My favorite tool for this is GoFormative. If you haven’t tried it, saddle up! It offers an easy way to set up a formative assessment and multiple methods for students to access it. You can choose from a variety of question formats including drawing for graphs or diagrams. The results are immediate and allow you to gauge the direction of your instruction for the day. A teacher is able to get analysis of individual students or questions. Classes can be set up and assessments stored for future use.
check for understanding in the place of my previous genius strategy of “Are you all following me?”. It allows me to know to whether to slow down and readdress a topic or continue at the current pace. I am able to see the topics that are commonly misunderstood and address those with a small group or even individually. So maybe you don’t get to the point of the lesson that you had anticipated. Was your goal to get to that point? Of course not. Your goal was to have the students comprehend the content of the lesson. Formative assessment allows you to accomplish that goal. Finally, you can also use GoFormative to assess at the end of a lesson as well. I’m shocked that my “Got it?” method from my early days of teaching didn’t get more national attention. But now a formative at the end lets me plan for the next day and gauge the effectiveness of my lesson quickly and easily.
There are many other products out there to give you a variety of options for formative assessment. Socrative, Google forms, Plickers, ExitTicket, Zaption, and Quizizz are just a few of the products that give you a different way to formatively assess your students’ understanding of your topic. I could explain all of the benefits of each, but this is a blog and not a novel. So, do a little research into all of these free sites and decide which one is best for your class. You will love the benefits that formative assessment brings to your students.